Good Naija Girl – AuthenticityHave you ever discovered a blog and fallen in love with its author, to the point that you find yourself searching online for as much information about the person as you can find (because you want to e-know them better)? Or maybe it was a YouTuber who enchanted you. Have you ever reached out to the blogger or video blogger (vlogger) to say hello or tell them that you think they’re cool? If you have, join the club because I have too! I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve become smitten with bloggers over the years after connecting with their writing, their brand, or who I imagined they were from reading their blog or watching their vlogs. While I was stalking—I mean researching—a vlogger last year, I came across a forum where people who had allegedly met her shared their disappointment, using words like “rude”, “conceited”, and “snobby” to describe her—a far cry from the sweet charmer she appeared to be on YouTube. In the eyes of some of her (now ex-) fans, she had failed the authenticity test.

Authenticity is complicated

The reason authenticity is complex is because we’re multi-faceted, and we can’t behave in exactly the same way at all times—we’re smart enough to choose the appropriate behaviour for the situation; this doesn’t make you inauthentic. The way you’d talk with your parents differs from how you’d talk to your siblings, or best friend, or colleagues, or the Queen, from the language you’d use, to the level of formality or familiarity you’d express, even if you were discussing the same topic with each group. The same is true online: someone who may swear a lot when they talk may choose not to have any swearing in their blog. With online communications, you have the luxury of reviewing what you’ve recorded or written and editing it before posting; not so when you’re speaking, which can lead to reality not matching the airbrushed perception.

My experience and views on authenticity online

When I started my blog it was important to me that if someone who knew me discovered the blog, they’d recognize me—not because I secretly wanted to be found but because it would mean I was being myself online. Similarly, if my parents (who know my blog address) ever read it, I’d want them to recognize their daughter, the one they think is sometimes too personal on her blog, but who they don’t try to change. So, I’d be disappointed if a stranger who reads my blog met me in person and said that I wasn’t at all like they expected me to be, even if they meant it as a compliment. It would mean I’d failed to effectively convey who I am.

For me, being authentic means sharing the good and the bad (but not necessarily ALL the good and ALL the bad) on my blog, and tweeting about the mundane (like my not-full Starbucks drink), because I’m the kind of girl who notices the mundane. My version of authenticity means not tweeting about every major world event to show that I’ve heard the news—I know that I’m (overly?) sensitive to news of tragedies and terrible happenings in the world so I deal with it by praying and being solemn because for me, I’d feel disingenuous creating a blog post about a news event unless I had a message that the news just happened to highlight. My brand of authenticity means I’ll talk about feeling jealous, the pain of changing friendships, and anxiety about what my future holds. I won’t pretend to have it all together, or to be a perfect Christian, because it’s too much work to fake it, but thank God I can at least be at peace during the journey (more or less).

But wait—a few disclaimer-type things

  • What I’ve shared applies to people who’ve made a decision to share about their entire lives, more or less: if a blog is focused on a specific niche, such as politics, it’s very possible that that political blogger is showing just one facet and the rest of their facets may not resemble someone who loves politics at all. To me that’s not inauthenticity; that’s exercising a facet. So before you call someone inauthentic, make sure you understand the context of their online life, and if you’re not sure, just ask.
  • Many choose to blog anonymously and as a result they decide leave out details (such as marital status or where they live) that could give them away. I don’t see this as inauthentic, because the core of the person would be unchanged by these facts. Deliberately lying, on the other hand, is inauthentic—please don’t do what some have done on Twitter and create an entire fake life.
  • That being said, I’m not telling you what to do (this time!), nor do I want to. If like me it’s important that your online self matches your in-person self, then hopefully what I’ve shared makes sense.
  • Finally, video blogging is a great way to let more of the real you show, in ways that you might not even notice. Aside from the realness of seeing you live (versus just reading your words), fans will feel closer to you because they’ll get to see your mannerisms—maybe you have a tendency to play with your fingers when talking, or you say the words “um” too much (ahem).

    I felt inspired to talk about authenticity very briefly in a video:

  1. If you’re online, is it important to you that your online personality match who you are in person?
  2. Have you ever met someone in person that you knew online and been surprised (in good or bad ways) at the difference between who they were online and who they were in person? This can work both ways—someone you can’t stand online might actually be lovely in person!

17 thoughts on “Authenticity

  1. It is difficult to be totally authentic because (like you said) your online life is “edited.” I just try to keep it as real as I can. P.S. I’ve always wondered what the Canadian accent sounded like. It’s like a clear American accent.

    • Well-said—keeping the aspects of yourself that you choose to share as “real” as possible is key. Thanks for commenting!!

      Lol I don’t know if my accent is 100% Canadian but I’ve been told that I enunciate.

  2. Hey Jummy! Well, as you know individuals blog for various reasons. There are some bloggers who don’t necessarily blog to/for an audience per se, it could be a theraputic way to express themselves. I too don’t share every detail of my personal life, In fact I’m purposefully candid on quite a few things eventhough I blog annonymously. My blog will never be able to encapsulate who I am as a whole/complete person. However after reading several of my posts, it’s reasonable to summize that I love God. Does this mean I’m perfect because I blog with a spiritual twist, or prayers or testimonies? NO WAY, far from perfect. So blogging for me is a hobby and I enjoy expressing a part of who I am and what Is on my mind/heart at a particular moment in time.

    • Hiya, Highly Favored!

      You’re right about different blogs having different purposes. What’s important is that whatever you choose to share is authentic, even if it represents just one part of you (like the political blogger example I shared).

      Your blog is a source of inspiration to me in my quest to get closer to God. :)

  3. Ok for me it’s a particular blogger who also doubles up as a vlogger this person comes off as such a nice person through their blog posts and very much likeable but their Youtube videos is a story for another day. The person comes across as conceited, holier than thou you name it it really baffles me. I am tempted to think that the vlogger is the person’s real life persona and the blogger is a created nice person online identity version. How can one person have totally opposite personalities! I was on a forum where several people said the same thing about this particular blogger/vlogger.

    • That’s very peculiar—you’d think she’d at least be consistent on her online properties. I would tend to agree with you that the video persona might be the real one because I think it’s easier to fake it in writing than on video.

      (Pendo, you’ve got me a bit curious as to who it is!)

  4. Yay for being authentic, Jummy! Of course, you didn’t intend to show your authenticity like that. *wink* :D

    I think, like you, I’m more concerned about being who I am…I experience growth pains sometimes and it has always reflected in my dealings with people. I become wiser, mature, and sometimes realize it’s time to let some people go.

    When these people see me differently I think its safe to say that I’m being inauthentic. However, authenticity to me, is making peace with my spirit-man AND having the guts to say “Hey, I was a brat but now I’m changed.” Whether others choose to celebrate my growth with me or not is not something I want to spend the best time of my years thinking about.

    • Well said, Maggie! I don’t have a problem with someone evolving—change is a part of life so it doesn’t get more authentic than that!

      Good point as well about how it’s not our job to worry or care how people perceive or react to our growth—like you I certainly always want to be growing and developing!

  5. I like being authentic. I share my experiences and views regarding fashion/style, dining and sometimes even more personal opinions on world/social issues. Unlike many fashion bloggers (I don’t consider myself a fashion/beauty blogger, anyway), I like giving a more honest opinion (or at least neutral) and don’t really like the raving that many style bloggers do. In fact, I’ve stopped reading many because of their over-positivity. However, those are the bloggers that get the most press and make the most money. I would rather forgo as much money and write about what I want (not-so-positive points I’ve made include criticizing collections for not being size friendly (I’m a short girl) as well as noting to body image activists that not everyone smaller than a size 2 has an “eating disorder.” In fact, I’ve called people out on it, saying that it can be seen as “sizist”). As for Instagram photos – mine are pretty much filled with food, sometimes with items that I’ve posted at another time. I don’t know if it’s just an “Asian thing” but I like showing people what I’ve eaten (or sometimes, what I’ve made (#cynthiacooks and #delectablychiccooks if you’re wondering))!

    • I didn’t know Asians were known for posting a lot of food pics (clueless Jummy!)—since has a “dining” section I thought your Instagram was focused on food pics for that reason.

  6. This is another passionate topic I like! Where should I start from sef? Ok! Your questions; 1}Yes. 2}No. Now, you summarized everything with this word: ‘Multi-facet’

    I put it to you GNG as a known fact that some bloggers have multi-personality. Like you said, the way we relate with our parents, siblings, friends, religious brethren, relatives and enemies differs because of the level of intimacy and obligation.

    I have come across honest bloggers like you, who say it as it is without sugar-coating, hence, am drawn to you as a bee to honey. I have also come across bloggers who talk as if ice-cream does not melt in their mouth! I have this intuition to read btw lines,[ though my hubby and @ilola tend to disagree with me sha *side-eyes* ] so I know when one is trying too hard to paint a picture of what they are not! But, they give themselves away with either a word, sentence or comment in other blogs! There are some issues that are common to every human being, that, when one tries to say otherwise, it is quite glaring they are economical with the truth.

    I was known as a controversial blogger then {or am I still one? I now walk on egg shells and I promised my hubby I would be gooood! ‘I dunno #shrugs#} because I say things the way they are in the society I live! But trust my people to always live in denial or play the ostrich! I was not anonymous before, but decided to go semi-anonymous because, I don’t want to get too attached to this new blog as I was to my old deleted blog. I have learnt to curtail my passion.

    The virtual world has empowered many to live a life they have envisioned for themselves but in reality they are not! Hence, they exhibit different personality to their fans or readers. But for a V-blogger, one should be exactly how s/he portrays her/himself in the videos because they are not anonymous or acting a movie script.

    I once watched a movie years ago {forgot the title} where 3 widows were talking about the same man they got married to at different times in their lives. The first wife saw him as an ingrate and complained about his infidelities. The second wife saw him as a gold digger. The third wife, saw him as the best husband in the world because of the love he showered on her and the pampering, infact, she had nothing negative to say about him, that the other 2 wives were amused and amazed at her, saying she was naive, living in illusion, and he didn’t show her his flaws. The court shared his assets accordingly as was stated in his will, saying, though, he was one man, he lived 3 different lives through 3 women, and the greatest assets they have from him, is their memories. The third wife mourned him the most, while the other 2, didn’t give a hoot!

    Jummy, so what am I saying with this my post-comment? All individuals put on different faces depending on the location, situation, and conditions they find themselves.

    • Dear New Dawn,

      Thank you for your comments: they always make me think and they bring insight from an angle that I may not have considered.

      Lol why would @ilola and hubby doubt you now? Comments on other blogs! That’s a great way to see a different side of someone.

      I didn’t see you as a controversial blogger before but a truth teller like you said. I of course found it refreshing and a great insight to a world I am not very familiar with but I can imagine how others could react. I want to tell you not to censor yourself but hehe I can’t overstep hubby.

      That example abi analogy you gave of the movie is a perfect illustration of your point, which you’ve stated beautifully. As long as our different faces are still representative of who we are I have no problem with that.

  7. Hmm authenticity. I think I am pretty authentic, but I am not like a major blogger or anything. I am drawn to bloggers that are authentic; you, new dawn, joie, nigerianscorpio and sugabelly. As such I have not really come across any blogs where i feel the author is different or inauthentic.

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